Approved for public release; distribution is unlimited.
Published Airpower Journal - Winter 1998
MAJ M. J. PETERSEN, EDITOR
IS AIRPOWER fact or fancy? Sideshow or the main act? From Martin van Creveld, who wrote in MHQ: The Quarterly Journal of Military History that in a world where almost all wars are fought not between states, but within them, many if not most of [airpowers] elements have become useless and obsolete, to Gen Frederick Kroesen, US Army, Retired, former commander of US Army Europe, these and other military and nonmilitary thinkers contend that the case for airpower has just not been made. They honestly believe airpower is more promise than fact. General Kroesen wrote in a letter to the Washington Post, None of the great air campaigns of the past has ever been decisive, and many have had contrary results. . . . All were sideshows to the Army and Marine efforts to occupy land and dominate the enemy. Others have suggested that the nation should devote greater resources to Army armor and artillery at the expense of new airpower weapons. It seems that there is still considerable or at least very vocal suspicion about airpowers impact in modern war. This issue of the Journal looks at airpowers relevancy to peacekeeping, ground combat, and space, and at its overall position in the post-cold-war world.
We start this issue with Dr. John Hillen, who suggests in Peacekeeping at the Speed of Sound that because operations other than war (OOTW) are driven by political imperatives, it is particularly important that airpower doctrine reflect these imperatives. Therefore, he argues that the question under consideration should be the relevancy of airpower doctrine to OOTW and their impact on each other. This is a different question from the relevancy of airpower to OOTW.
In a slightly different vein, Col Jeffery Barnetts Great Soldiers on Airpower looks at the airpower relevancy question from a different angle. Colonel Barnett suggests that since any airpower advocate wearing a blue uniform is routinely dismissed as an airpower zealot making a partisan case, it may be helpful to review the insights of nonairmen who have seen the effects of airpower firsthand. He therefore draws on the perspectives of such nonairmen as Generals of the Army George Marshall, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Omar Bradley; Generals George S. Patton, Vo Nguyen Giap, Khaled bin Sultan; and Franklin DOlier, chairman of the United States Strategic Bombing Survey, to present his contention that airpower is effective and relevant not only in the modern world but was also relevant in the past.
The rationale for the existence of the Air Force is to envision, develop, and apply airpower capabilities. In Strategic Planning for the Air Force, Deborah Westphal, Richard Szafranski, and Dr. Gregory S. Parnell present two tenets in regards to airpower. The first is their belief that planning for the future of airpower is so critical to the existence of the United States and to that of our friends and allies that it must be done right. To help ensure it is done right, they suggest that much can be gained by examining how planning is accomplished in the fiercely competitive world of for profit business. Their second tenet argues that some commercial planning initiatives offer the potential to improve the Air Force planning process. Their article asserts that the institutional planning process should drive the efforts and effectiveness of the Air Force and that it can and must be improved. Before you dismiss this as just another management article, consider this: They are really advocating a return to the vision and boldness that characterized airmens pre-cold-war planning.
From terrestrial applications of airpower and strategic plans for the future, Lt Col Bruce M. DeBlois takes us out of the atmosphere to consider the near-term implications of weapons in space. He does not see the militarization/weaponization question as an all-or- nothing affair. In Space Sanctuary: A Viable National Strategy, he presents a summary of the case against space weaponization, proceeding from the historical trends of US nuclear and space policy to domestic and international political concerns. He addresses the space weaponization issue by briefly examining adversarial potential (the threat), technological limitations, financial trade-offs, practical considerations of military strategy, and finally the emotional appeal of global security and well-being. DeBlois has staked out a provocative position that we hope will invite debate.
From the weaponization of space debate, Lt Col Larry K. Grundhauser turns our thoughts to the question of whether or not the sky is falling because of the developing interest in commercial high-resolution satellites. While none of us can deny the impact that satellites had upon the Persian Gulf War, Grundhausers Sentinels Rising examines the possibility that if the commercial remote-sensing industry is right, there will be over 30 high-resolution commercial satellites in orbit around the Earth by mid-2001. These satellites will be using affordable technologies to provide volumes of imagery to an international clientele with fidelity previously unobtainable by the general public. Thus, is the sky really falling because an adversary will have the ability to purchase high-resolution imagery of our actions? Read on and see what may happen.
And in the spirit of opening the debate, the Airpower Journal introduces in this issue what it hopes will be the start of something new the airpower professionals book club. The Mystique of Airpower introduces our idea that in order to become true professionals, we must know the debate and know not only what is immediately before us but also what has gone on in the past and how our predecessors responded to their unique situations. We have decided to inaugurate a book club discussion group not only in the pages of the Journal, but also within our on-line journal, Air Chronicles. By using both media and your help, we hope to induce you to participate and not only be able to carry on a discussion on a quarterly basis, but on a continuing basis in Air Chronicles. So, take a look at your bookshelves and send us your list of the top 10 books that airpower professionals should read.
These are the feature articles of this editionbut dont forget to look at the Way Points and the reviews in Net Assessment. Your Ricochet section is especially lively this time with replies to Maj J. P. Hunerwadels way point, which was a critical review of Into the Storm, written by Tom Clancy and Gen Frederick Franks (see the Summer 1998 edition), and responses to Dr. Grant Hammonds look at the myths of the Gulf War in the Fall 1998 edition.
Is airpower the main act? Not necessarily. Military power must be exercised in all of its many forms and for many different purposes, but airpower has arrived as a military force and can no longer be cavalierly dismissed as a mere sideshow. As we enter the last months of the millennium and prepare for the next, it is within the pages of the Journal that we as airpower professionals will shape the course of the debate.
We hope you relish these articles, but remember, this is your professional journal, and it is only as good as you want it to be. So, if you have an idea for an article, put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) and send us your thoughts. Enjoy!
The conclusions and opinions expressed in this document are those of the author cultivated in the freedom of expression, academic environment of Air University. They do not reflect the official position of the U.S. Government, Department of Defense, the United States Air Force or the Air University.
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